Working from home used to be a distant fantasy for some. Convincing your traditional-minded boss that you could do the exact same thing from the comfort of your own couch usually didn’t bode well for how committed they perceive you to be. In came COVID-19, forcing most employers to attempt to operate their businesses remotely – and to their surprise; it worked!
“The whole world had been headed towards digitization of the workplace and even learning for a while now,” explains Tamer Isaac, a certified trainer and career coach. “COVID-19 just sped up that process; older generations hadn’t seen the point in going remote and doubted the efficiency of remote work until COVID-19 forced that change.”
The pandemic has, for obvious reasons, put many jobs at risk, and even caused thousands, if not millions, of Egyptians to lose their main sources of income. But to others, particularly those in creative industries, it presented a massive opportunity. But to reap the benefits of such opportunity, one had to be prepared. Unfortunately, education systems, in Egypt and elsewhere, are yet to be able to fully prepare students for the demands of the new work environment.
“There’s a big gap between what people need in the workplace and what they get in education,” explains Isaac. “When someone is being assessed, there are usually three levels that are looked at; knowledge; skills; and behaviors. Any hiring decision should be based on all three levels, and subsequently education needs to cover all three levels.”
Particularly promising fields
Experts expect the changes brought about by COVID-19 to persist even long after the pandemic is gone; remote work is here to stay. In order for remote working to be efficient, communication softwares will become increasingly important and also a lot more customizable to each particular work environment – that opens the door for a particular field to flourish.
“Information and communication technology are two fields that saw great increase in demand over the past few years, as well as automation,” further adds Isaac. “The ability to develop communication software was already in-demand across all fields, and the demand is only going to grow further in the coming years.”
“The medical field is also going to witness increased demand in Egypt and around the world – whether nurses, pharmacists or physicians. Same goes for engineering, particularly, as mentioned, information technology and robotics, but also energy – particularly new forms of sustainable energy; experience or study in that field is surely going to be incredibly beneficial.”
Such fields need technical knowledge that can be obtained either through specialized degrees or higher education, but other fields that are opening up would only require the talent and the will to do it, like content creation, writing and graphic designing.
It’s not only about the know-how
While many hiring managers are primarily focused on whether their prospective hires would know how to do the job, in the age of COVID-19 and remote work, other skills will come into play.
“A big part of employability will be about skills that we don’t often get taught at universities; like emotional intelligence and communication skills,” explains Isaac, adding that such skills will now become more valuable than ever in the lack of face-to-face interactions. Managers will now have to rely on their employees’ sense of integrity and commitment to finish the job even without constant supervision. It has now become everyone’s role to convey how much of that skill-set do they possess, and that should eventually show in the outcome.
“It won’t be about if you’re in the office anymore; but rather about achieving clear, agreed-upon objectives – which should be developed through an internal dialogue,” elaborates Isaac. “The manager’s job now is to keep following up and know how to hold their teams accountable to the objectives – they will become the only measure of efficiency moving forward.”